City happy with £1.9m cemetery after six burials in three months

HULL Council says it is happy with the performance of its £1.9m new cemetery despite only six burials taking place since it was opened more than three months ago.

The rate of burials at Priory Woods, in Priory Road, Cottingham, is less than one a fortnight, the joint lowest with Hedon Road among the five cemeteries run by the authority.

The facility has been dogged by difficulties from the start and was 18 months behind schedule when it opened on May 17, the delay being blamed on the time needed to allow the land to settle.

Although the cemetery is operated by the city council, it is within the boundary of the East Riding and its development saw a rare public disagreement between the neighbouring authorities, when East Riding Council went against the advice of its own officers to oppose the project.

Hull Council appealed against the decision and was eventually granted permission to proceed at a public inquiry.

Some residents with properties overlooking the cemetery also opposed it, complaining about the loss of the view of open fields they had previously enjoyed.

The city council said Priory Woods was performing according to expectations. Head of customer services, Andy Brown, said: "The Priory Woods Cemetery opened on 17 May and already six burials have taken place.

"The number of inquiries and bookings we have received so far is in line with the projected demand for the facility and we continue to receive inquiries.

"The site offers customers more choice regarding types of burials and provides an increased burial capacity for the city.

"It is intended that the cemetery will last at least 50 years for new rights and will continue to service families and generations for the next two hundred years."

There were 118 burials or interments at the council's Northern Cemetery over the same period, 70 at Eastern Cemetery, and 20 at Western Cemetery.

The new facility, the first to be built by the council in nearly 100 years, has space for 13,000 interments and relieves pressure on the other Hull graveyards.

Although some existing burial rights have yet to be taken up at Northern Cemetery, it is effectively full.

Space at the city's oldest operating cemetery, Hedon Road, which opened in 1875, is described as "limited", while at Western Cemetery new burial rights are available for only 200 graves.

The site at Priory Woods is the first Hull Council cemetery to offer "natural burials", in which biodegradable coffins are buried with a non-biodegradeable small plastic tube containing a microchip to allow each grave to be identified. This records the name and age of the deceased and can be checked against a grid reference.

This area has been planted with trees that are intended to form a woodland and become a haven for wildlife.

The cemetery also offers lawn burials in which a discreet headstone is laid horizontally on the ground while there are dedicated areas for Muslim burials and for burials of babies aged up to a year old.

Priory Woods was designed to be environmentally friendly and as self-sufficient as possible.

Two reservoirs at the rear of the cemetery hold excess water from the land, reducing the flow of surface water into the drainage system. Tapwater at the site comes from the same source and is naturally filtered and circulated by an on-site pump.

The service area and office are heated by ground heat sourcing technology.